Horse Progression & UI

By Bretton Hamilton - Lead Game Designer

Hey there, Starfam! This is Bretton Hamilton (they/them), Lead Game Designer at Star Stable, and I cannot wait to tell you about the latest updates on our Horse Progression project! Our team at Star Stable HQ has been putting in a lot of hard work to make your time with your horses the most exciting and enjoyable experience ever!

Community Collaboration

Half of Star Stable is made by us, and the other half is made by our players. The development of the game has always been a dance between us, and we hope to learn the footwork together. This is all a very flowery way of saying that we need YOU!

Horse Progression is one of our most ambitious projects that aims to reframe what levelling horses in SSO looks like. With this major update, we are focusing on translating Horse Levels and Horse Experience (HXP) into a representation of the bond between rider and horse. This means that you and your horse will unlock new skills as you progress together. An example of one of these skills is the ability to command your horse to return to your side over great distances with a whistle.

We're giving exciting new tools to players to tell their own stories and play the game the way they want to. We can't wait for everyone to get their hands on Horse Progression and give us your feedback. What do you like? What don't you like? What do you want more of?

This has been a continuation of our Horse Bonding initiative, and we are planning on using feedback to help us consider our next steps and further polish Horse Progression and Horse Purchasing!

We also want to highlight that we welcome constructive feedback from the community regarding our changes to the UI with open arms. We need player support to make sure our future UI lays the groundwork for a bright future for Star Stable, without losing the iconic Star Stable feel our legacy UI had.

With the new Player Character, State Machine, Horse Progression, UI updates, and more, Star Stable is boldly stepping into its second decade of life. We are grateful for the players' support and feedback. We hope to continue this dance together for many years to come.

Last Time on Horse Progression!

There have been some updates since I last wrote about Horse Progression back in September last year

Firstly, in that post, I announced our plans to allow you to compete in daily races multiple times per day, once for each of your horses. This is one of the most requested features from the community and at the top of the wishlist of Stacy Place, our Game Director! As this feature still needs more time in the oven, we will be releasing Horse Progression first and then making sure everything is cooked thoroughly for our future race system improvements!

We are also trying to make sure that we expand access to old features and incorporate existing rewards into our new progression system. We want to be very clear about what happens to purchases made prior to this release.

  • Players who bought Lead Rope will still be able to access this feature for all of their horses with no level restrictions. Players without can unlock Lead Rope for each horse individually by levelling it up to level 3. 

  • Any horse already purchased with a Special Movement or Special Trick will keep this feature regardless of level. Newly bought horses after the Horse Progression will unlock these unique skills at level 7 to further reinforce the growing connection and trust.

  • All existing horses can unlock the new rewards, and your already trained horses will automatically unlock rewards equivalent to their level!

We held an Ambassador Test (more about Ambassadors here!) for Horse Progression in early February this year and got a TON of incredible feedback. I will cover our response to the UI (User Interface) feedback below, but the biggest changes we've made since have been offering a few UI customization options, improving the introduction to our new features, and merging everything with the new Horse State Machine.

Leveling and Stat Redistribution

We're making some changes to the way horses level up in Star Stable. We want to make it easier for you to unlock more of Jorvik's events earlier in your horse's journey. That's why we're redistributing the stats gained so that each horse reaches peak performance at level 13.

What does this mean for you? Well, if your horse reaches level 13, you'll have an equal chance of competing in championships and using those races to gain the last few horse levels! And when your horse reaches its maximum level, we'll celebrate by awarding it a unique golden nameplate in your Home Stable. You can choose whether to show off your horse's new bling or you can toggle this off in the Settings to keep it simple with the rustic wood look.

We are also updating our Horse Trainer. Previously, when you purchased training, your horse was set to the next level with the exact HXP required to reach that level. Now, any HXP progress you've made into your current level will carry into the next!

We hope you enjoy these changes and keep sharing your feedback with us. We're always looking for ways to make Star Stable even more exciting and fun for you!

The Future of Star Stable’s User Interface

We have given a complete makeover to our in-game HUD, Heads-Up Display, for desktop, and made small updates to mobile, alongside the revamped levelling system. Although we know that many players loved our old HUD (and we did too!), we needed to build a new UI that was robust and flexible enough to allow for the new gameplay added in Horse Progression and many of the new features we're planning for the future.

The Horse Progression update introduces new functionality, but the visuals are not final! We heard a lot of feedback about the HUD missing that familiar Star Stable charm!

Our UI and UX designers are hard at work building a new Star Stable Online "Design System." This system will allow us to build new features and experiences faster than ever for all of our players across all platforms. It's like a library of components (buttons, menus, windows...) that tells us how something should look and behave. This way, you know what to expect from every click, whether you are on our website, mobile, or desktop. This new design system should give all of our platforms a singular UI aesthetic that looks and feels like Star Stable!

We considered waiting for us to finish the design system before we release Horse Progress to you all, but we wanted to give you new features ASAP!

So, we've talked about the changes we are making today, but let's take a moment to talk about the future. During our Horse Progression Ambassador Test, we received tons of feedback on our UI! And our first impression was dizzying! We had players asking for smaller icons, bigger icons, more stuff on the screen, less stuff on the screen... This feedback told us one very important thing: each of our players has their own way of playing. Instead of us ignoring some portion of our player base, we want to support that uniqueness in all of you by creating a customizable UI experience. 

We started this with the UI scaling options that launched on April 6th, which made it possible to adjust the size of buttons and menus to suit your screen resolution. But we are excited to go so much further than that. With Horse Progression, we're releasing toggle options for further customizability, but this is just the beginning!

We are proud of the added functionality, but to reiterate: the visuals for the new HUD will be getting an aesthetic update as soon as we finish our Design System.

For our team here, we are looking at updating our tools in our editor to help our designers ship better content faster! These new tools will let us finally address some of the areas of the game that have been holding us back, including updating our Map, our Quest System, and other places that use custom-written code to handle previous limitations. The future is collaborative and customizable!